A jig used in making jewelry, a specific type of jig, is a plate or open frame for holding work and helping to shape jewelry components made out of wire or small sheets of metal. A jig in the jewelry making application is used to help establish a pattern for use in shaping the wire or sheets of metal. In the jewelry application, the shaping of the metal is done by hand or with simple hand tools like a hammer.
The use of wire in making jewelry is something that can be seen in jewelry from the Sumerian Dynasty of Ur about 2560 BC. The British Museum has examples of jewelry obtained from the Royal Cemetery of Ur (Iraq) that include wire spirals. Examples of wire and sheet metal jewelry can also be found in jewelry from Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome. While we have no examples of jigs or patterns being used to make that jewelry, one can surmise that sometime after the Sumerians, but likely before the Romans that patterns made out of carved wood were used to shape jewelry components. re the same technique we use in our knitting today.
The Boheman culture brought back wire jewelry. In the 1800 they used wire to string chips of polished glass and stone beads to make necklaces and bracelets.
There are many techniques for making jewelry using a jewelry making jig. Most of these techniques can be termed by the name wire wrapping. This name for making jewelry by hand refers to the fact that instead of using solder or glue, wire components using this approach are connected to one another using the same techniques developed prior to the Middle Ages of wrapping wire around itself to permanently fix a loop in wire and to connect wire components.
Techniques for wire wrapping that are commonly used today can be seen in Roman jewelry and in Egyptian jewelry dated to 6 and 7 AD. While the wire used at that time was not modern wire, the techniques to use that wire are still valid today. At present, these ancient techniques have been improved on through the use of modern materials and jewelry making jigs with removable pegs.
- Ogden, Jack, 1992, Interpreting the Past -- Ancient Jewelry, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-08030-0